halo-5

Even though the Halo games have sometimes been criticised for their lacklustre campaigns, the strength of their multiplayer modes still end up elevating the games to being one of the strongest contenders for taking the first person shooter crown. According to my favourite esteemed journalist, Simon Parkin, Halo 5 continues this fine tradition of offering “a competent campaign, but the multiplayer makes it” worthy of your time. It also helps that the game is below the £20 psychological barrier and has never been cheaper at £17.85.

Side note: in the beginning of Simon Parkin’s review, he shares an interesting anecdote about Microsoft’s attempt in entering the games arena at a time when the landscape was largely dominated by Sony and Nintendo. But even then, I never doubted Microsoft’s resolve for a second. I was one of the very first to state that Microsoft’s original machine would be a mere stepping stone towards the company solidifying their reputation with what came after (and I was proven right). I was also one of the very first to state that Nintendo’s Gamecube would be unsuccessful, and again, I was proven right.

It seems that Michael Patcher seems to have his head screwed on, as he recently stated that “based on Nintendo’s recent history, it is not going to be very good“. What’s interesting is that he also likens it to being like the Apple TV and will most likely miss the point of games getting away from consoles. He’s not wrong of course, what with VR representing a genuine improvement over what has come before – with PS4 accessory Playstation VR selling out within minutes.

In a changing gaming landscape where “Nintendo is desperately clinging on to an old business model that is passing them by“, it’ll be interesting to see as to whether the company has anything interesting to offer with the forthcoming NX. However, and based on Nintendo’s past history and performance, it does seem as if the company will again be attempting to continue a gimmick-laden approach where the hardware offers an impractical solution to a problem that simply doesn’t exist. This is fine by me, because in an era where the changing of guards has seen Sony and Microsoft both actively supplant Nintendo for mindshare dominance, and where Nintendo has proven that they only have 12 million loyal supporters who would invest in the company’s hardware products and software portfolio, it’s not too hard to imagine a world where Nintendo follows Sega into eschewing hardware businesses practices and become a software-only developer.

If the purpose of business is to satisfy a consumer want and desire, and with gamers needs having already been largely met by both Sony and Microsoft, Nintendo now finds itself in the unenviable position of representing a niche concern where the company doesn’t even factor into mainstream conversations. Unable to capture the traditional hardcore gamer who wants a premium experience with their money, but also unable to rely upon the casual gaming market which is satisfied with Android and iPhone devices, Nintendo’s hardware and games business simply doesn’t resonate with a large enough audience – especially for the price. And when Nintendo offer a bare bones 20 year old SNES game for £7.19 whilst making very little attempt in modernising it for modern systems – such as Super Mario Kart which doesn’t offer online multiplayer on New 3DS – their competition are only more than happy to fill this space by going above and beyond the call of duty in attracting customers (such as when Microsoft offered enhanced ports of practically every single Rare game for less than £20). With this in mind, is it any wonder that many people perceive Nintendo to be out of touch with the gaming market and lacking self awareness?

Even though Nintendo has sold 12 million Wii U units, not every single Wii U owner has been fully satisfied with their purchase. With the common complaint being Nintendo’s extremely expensive first party games as well as lack of third party software support (where even Sony Vita gets more notable third party games), many have actively expressed their discontent after having being burned by Nintendo’s inability to give them what they want. With this in mind, it’ll be interesting to see as to what the future holds for NX and whether customers would be prepared to give Nintendo another chance.

With Wii U users having their Mario Maker levels removed without explanation, as well as Western companies encroaching upon and being more successful than Nintendo in their traditional home territory (where even Sony’s Vita beats Nintendo at their own game), the future certainly doesn’t inspire confidence – especially after Nintendo’s own growing list of recent incompetent failures have led to the company further alienating gamers and decreasing consumer confidence. And whilst recent reports of the NX Controller leak were proven to be fake, its reception amongst gamers (as well as Nintendo’s lack of ownership in dismissing the reports) only further cemented the idea that gamers have come to expect Nintendo as being unreliably inconsistent in making hardware that is perceived as being unwieldy and doesn’t cater to mainstream gaming needs.

Of course, and with a proposed hardware offering that isn’t looking to follow standard industry paradigms, it’s highly unlikely that Nintendo have learnt any lessons in addressing market needs. Regardless of whether there is any truth to Nintendo’s initiative in seeking major software allies, if Nintendo aren’t prepared to make concessions in placating industry and consumer needs, then it’s highly optimistic to even suggest that the NX will match Nintendo’s meagre success with the Wii U. Because if one were to chart Nintendo’s present course of action, it’s unfair to even compare Nintendo’s NX with Apple TV. And whilst Michael Patcher is certainly correct in assuming that the NX would most likely be a console/handheld hybrid, with the company partnering with DeNa and having initial success with MiiTomo, it’ll be interesting to see as to whether the company can maintain its momentum. Certainly the Wii U was also initially successful. But so was Playstation TV. As well as the Ouya.

Imagine how amazing Super Mario 3D World would look, as well as how many copies it would sell, if it came out on XBox One and PS4...

Imagine how amazing Super Mario 3D World would look, as well as how many copies it would sell, if it came out on XBox One and PS4…

If Nintendo’s software strength is only mitigated by their hardware weakness, where the quality and success of their games are constrained by hardware technical and userbase limitations, is there really any shame for Nintendo to follow Sega into becoming a software-only publisher? Imagine how many more millions of copies the company would sell, and how good their games would look if the company were to allow its games be released on more powerful hardware?

I really do wish Michael Patcher had further elaborated upon his thoughts regarding Nintendo and its forthcoming NX. Because if the Wii U has struggled to meet Dreamcast’s success within the same time-frame, then is it really too hard to conceive a future where the NX continues to perpetuate Nintendo’s decline into hardware irrelevance? One thing’s for sure though, is that it’ll take at least one more failure with NX before Nintendo realises that the “blue ocean strategy” has been staring at the company all along. For I personally can’t wait for the day when Nintendo finally sees the error of its ways and shed its hardware burden in order to become free at last.

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